Robert Coover: The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop.
If you like baseball fiction, you will definitely enjoy this novel but even if you consider baseball to be, frankly, not cricket, do not ignore it. This novel was written before fantasy baseball had taken off but it is still pertinent. J. Henry Waugh, second-rate accountant, ordinary guy in many respects, is the owner of the Universal Baseball Association, an association which has a complex history, set of books and financial structure and which is entirely fictitious, existing only in the world of J Henry Waugh and known only to the odd girl he takes back to his apartment. Henry does not really like real baseball. What attracts him (as it attracts many others) are the statistics of baseball. He does not just follow the statistics. He creates an entire baseball association, with all its history and a formal set of official archives, and plays it through the years (we are on year 56 or, rather, LVI, when the novel opens). But the Association has taken over his life completely. His fertile imagination creates not only the dry statistics but the whole baseball environment – from fans’ screaming to players’ personal problems. Eventually, as the book starts, it takes over his own personal life – his friends and his job.
If you enjoy baseball, you will certainly enjoy the excitement of this book but even if baseball is meaningless to you, Coover’s brilliant evocation of how fantasy can supplant reality will get to you.
First published 1968 by Random House